Professor of Gender and War. University of Sydney

Women describe struggles with gender roles in US Military

SUMMARY: It is not a new revelation that female soldiers face particular hardships in the ‘intensely male world of the Unites States military.’ Female soldiers are more likely to report depressive symptoms, 10 times more likely to report serious sexual harassment compared to men. This piece by the New York Times chronicles quotes from various women about their experiences in the US military. Out of all the 150 submissions, Talya Minsber has chosen quotes that reflect the masculine pressures of the military. Sonia Kendrick for example says she ‘eliminated many so-called feminine characteristics so as not to draw attention to myself,’ and Diana Kramer also claims that while her male counterparts were presumed capable, ‘it was often assumed that I was incompetent until I proved I was not.’ Some key quotes are below:

  • “Fighting the notion that women do not belong in the military is stressful. A woman’s individual actions are considered as a reflection of all females. No successful female sailor wants to be ‘that woman.’” – Charlene Basden was deployed on the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
  • At one point, my supervisor was so concerned that he suggested that I wear my belt backward so that a rapist would have more difficulty pulling down my pants. As a female officer, this inability to do the simplest of things for fear of being raped was demeaning and demoralizing.” – Vanessa M. Remus was deployed to Iraq in 2010-11 with the California Army National Guard to provide logistics support for southern Iraq


SOURCE: Talya Minsber, May 24 2015, ‘Women Describe Their Struggles With Gender Roles in Military,’ The New York Times,  

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